Proposed sexual harassment policy changes unveiled

By Gus Bode

A draft of revisions released Wednesday would change the way the university deals with allegations of sexual harassment.

Legal counsel shared the changes with an assembly of campus constituency leaders to get the groups’ opinions on the policy. The leaders will show the revisions to their respective groups and provide suggestions to the administration before the policy is given to the Board of Trustees for approval.

If approved, the university would have more specific guidelines to the way it investigates claims of sexual harassment and various changes to what is considered sexual harassment.


The last time changes were enacted to the policy was March 2003. Since then, changes to federal and state law have caused a need to revise of the policies, said Jerry Blakemore, SIU general counsel.

Many groups on campus have discussed the policy in recent months after two lawsuits involving the policy were filed against the university. Plaintiffs in both cases have argued the university did not follow due process in investigations into sexual harassment allegations against two professors.

Blakemore said the lawsuits did not spur the revisions, which would have taken place anyway as is protocol with any system-wide policy.

Another prime factor in the revisions was two reports submitted by committees formed to review the policy in 2006, said Phyleccia Cole, associate general counsel.

The groups include the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, which submitted its findings to former Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity Seymour Bryson, and the Chancellor’s Affirmative Action Working Group, which gave a report to former Chancellor Walter Wendler.

Participants in both committees have voiced concern that their proposed changes were ignored and stalled by the administration that requested them.

Cole said she and others in legal counsel reviewed all of the suggestions. While they did not enact all of the suggestions into the draft verbatim, they certainly touched on all of the issues brought up, she said.


The constituency groups – including the Administrative and Professional Staff Council, Civil Service Council, Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, Undergraduate Student Government, Faculty Association, Graduate Assistants United and Non-Tenure Track Faculty – will choose how they discuss the changes with legal counsel representatives and the administration.

SIU President Glenn Poshard said he hopes to have the vetted policy ready to present to the board by Nov. 1.

To view the PDFs pertaining to this story, visit the PDF link.

Sean McGahan can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 254 or [email protected].